Box Elder Tree
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Box Elder Tree
Boxelder trees are grown throughout the United States. They are often found by wetlands such as lakes, streams, ponds, and other low-lying wet places. This tree has a shallow root system, making it drought tolerant. Conversely, it is also able to withstand short flooding periods, of up to one month.
Leaves and Seeds:
The leaves on Boxelder trees are the only member of the maple tree that has divided leaves. Each leaflet is approximately 3 inches long and appear opposite of each other. Each leaflet is notched. The leaves are a dull green through the summer, then turn a pretty yellow in the fall. In the spring both male and female trees grow yellow-green flowers from March through May.
Boxelder trees grow seeds that are paired, and form V shaped seed pods called samaras. Samaras hang in clusters, that remain on the tree into the winter months. The seed is about 1 1/2 inches long. The seeds hang in long chains in the fall and winter, after the leaves have fallen off the tree. The seeds attract birds because they provide food in the winter when other food sources are scarce.
Bark and twigs: The bark is a light grey to yellow brown, and it darkens with age. The twigs on a Boxelder tree are Light green or purplish brown. Twigs are stout and soemtimes are covered with white velvety hairs that are easily rubbed off.
Uses and History: It's perfect to be used for pulp, inexpensive furniture, and other wooden items. Native Americans used to use the lower part of the trunk to make bowls, dishes, pipestems, poles, and drums.
Since Boxelders grow in moist areas, they are often planted at the edges of streams, creeks, ponds, and swamps. They are also planted to provide shade, ground cover, and to protect the banks near waterways.